Dorothy Layton (1912 - 2009)

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Paul E. Gierucki
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Dorothy Layton (1912 - 2009)

Postby Paul E. Gierucki » Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:16 am

Ran across this obituary today.

-- PG


Dorothy W. Taylor
Former Hollywood movie starlet appeared in Laurel & Hardy comedies in
early 1930s

By Frederick N. Rasmussen
June 9, 2009

Dorothy W. "Dotty" Taylor, a former WAMPAS Baby starlet and Hollywood
movie actress who appeared during the early 1930s in comedies starring
Laurel & Hardy and Charlie Chase, died in her sleep Thursday June 4th,
2009 at the Edenwald retirement community in Towson. She was 96.

She was born Dorothy Violet Wannenwetch, the daughter of a founder of
the Western Southern Life Insurance Co. and a homemaker.


During her early years, she moved with her family to Virginia Beach,
Va., and later to Baltimore, where she graduated in 1929 from the old
Hannah More Academy in Reisterstown.


Mrs. Taylor was 17 when she went to California in 1929 for a two-week
vacation that turned into a permanent relocation. She began to
frequent the Hollywood social scene and acted in local theater
productions.


"I was only going to visit my cousin in Santa Barbara. Before I knew
it, I was there for good," she said in a 2001 interview with the Best
of Times, a Keswick Multi-Care Center publication, where she worked
for years as entertainment director.


Mrs. Taylor moved to West Hollywood and fell in love with Roger
Marchetti, the famed Hollywood attorney who represented Bing Crosby
and Howard Hughes.


The petite blond, blue-eyed actress, accompanied by Mr. Marchetti,
became a regular at such Hollywood watering holes as the Brown Derby,
the Coconut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel, and Chasen's.


"We always had the best seat in the house and even if the most
prominent table had been taken the head waiter would always gather
tables together to make a head table for our party, which usually
consisted of Howard Hughes, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery,
Ralph Bellamy, Ann Dvorak and on occasions Garbo," Mrs. Taylor said in
an interview with Austin Mutti-Mewse of the IMDb, the Internet Movie
Database.


"She adopted Dorothy Layton, her maternal grandmother's name, as her
stage name," said her son, Howard M. Taylor III of Towson.


Mrs. Taylor's big break came in 1932 when she was named a WAMPAS Baby
by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers in the United
States.


The organization began naming 13 talented starlets whose motion
picture career showed promise in 1922.


Others sharing in WAMPAS Baby honors in 1932 included Ginger Rogers,
Eleanor Holm, Mary Carlisle and Gloria Stuart.


Her debut film in 1932 was Chickens Come Home which starred Laurel &
Hardy and Thelma "Toddy" Todd. Other films she appeared in during 1932
included County Hospital, Pack Up Your Troubles, The Chimp and
YoungIronsides with Charlie Chase, the Baltimore-born comic actor.


Her last picture was Hollywood on Parade in 1933, which starred Mary
Pickford and Johnny May Brown.


Mrs. Taylor, whose love affair with Mr. Marchetti collapsed, abruptly
abandoned her Hollywood career and returned to Baltimore in 1934.


Within a month of returning to Baltimore, she met and married Howard
W. Taylor Jr., a Baltimore businessman.


The marriage ended in divorce.


"She moved on and didn't lament leaving Hollywood. She was good at
moving on and through things," her son said.


In 1947, Mrs. Taylor was recruited to be a volunteer at the Home for
Incurables as Keswick was then known. In 1954 she became the home's
paid entertainment director. She retired in 1977.


Mrs. Taylor, who had lived on Purlington Road in Homeland for many
years, later moved to Elkridge Estates before settling in the Towson
retirement community in 1996, where she participated in shows.


Despite the passing of the years, Mrs. Taylor retained her sense of
style and beauty.


"She always looked like a million bucks," said John P. Cook, her
grandson, who lives in Hollywood, St. Mary's County. "I never saw her
wear anything else but high-heels."


Mrs. Taylor enjoyed going to the movies and the theater. She was also
an avid gardener.


At her request, there will be no services.


In addition to her son and grandson, Mrs. Taylor is survived by a
great-granddaughter. Her daughter, Barbara Ann Raley, died earlier
this year.

Jim Kerkhoff
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Re: Dorothy Layton (1912 - 2009)

Postby Jim Kerkhoff » Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:47 pm

Thanks for posting Dorothy Layton's obituary, Paul. I'm kicking myself for not knowing she lived in the Baltimore/Towson area, which is quite close to where I am in Northern Virginia. It would have been great to get in touch and visit to chat about her days at Roach Studios - however brief they were. Years ago I'd gotten to know Virginia Karns-Paterson (Mother Goose in "Babes in Toyland") who had an equally brief stint there just after Dorothy left, and she had some great stories. Oh, well. Not many Roach alumni left.

Jim K

Yair Solan
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Re: Dorothy Layton (1912 - 2009)

Postby Yair Solan » Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:33 pm

Dorothy Layton also appeared in Chase's FALLEN ARCHES (1933), playing Billy Gilbert's secretary. I wonder if she was ever interviewed for her (albeit brief) work at the Roach studio - I somehow doubt it.

Yair
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Re: Dorothy Layton (1912 - 2009)

Postby Yair Solan » Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:56 pm

Some random quotes from Dorothy Layton on her film career, courtesy of IMDb (not sure where they first appeared):

"Laurel was the brains behind the genius of Laurel and Hardy," she said in December 2003. "I heard rumors of fights between them but never witnessed anything to suggest their relationship was anything but professional. What I can say is the producer Hal Roach had to often stop the cameras rolling because Laurel and Hardy who ad-libbed used to have everyone rolling about the aisles in tears of laughter. They were and still are magnificent."

Dorothy was joined by her mother in 1930 and moved to a small house in West Hollywood. By now Dorothy was dating Roger Marchetti; famed attorney for Howard Hughes and Bing Crosby, Dorothy dined at Hollywood 's premier restaurants. She recalled "We always had the best seat in the house and even if the most prominent table had been taken the head waiter would always gather tables together to make a head table for our party which usually consisted of Howard Hughes, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, Ralph Bellamy, Ann Dvorak and on occasions Garbo."

"Everyone knew Thelma Todd as 'Toddy'," she said. "Toddy had a small café which was a favorite of all the stars. She then became involved with mobster Lucky Luciano. Hers was a tragic end."

In 2001 in an interview about her life in Hollywood she said. "I'm never too chatty about those days. I was fond of most of them and often wonder how my life would be had I stayed. Volunteer work gave me a sense of belonging whilst Hollywood was false and phony and really made no sense at all."
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